Art and spies

In the 1920s and 30s the Rembrandtplein and its surrounding streets were the heart of the theatre world, and a major entertainment centre.

The Rembrandt Theatre and Mille Colonnes were on the Rembrandtplein, Cabaret La Gaité was on the first floor of the Tuschinski Theatre,  the audiences often went for supper or drinks at the Schiller.

The artists (like the actress and singer Fien de la Mar), cabaret artistes, singers, actors, theatre and film directors and other celebrities from Amsterdam and beyond did not only come to the Schiller for the convivial atmosphere, the food and the accompanying drink: they also came to find work.

The Schiller was filled with actors seeking out new plays and roles, musicians searching for engagements, and artists looking for buyers for their work. There were many regular guests who came almost every evening.

Two artists who were regular visitors of Schiller were Hildo Krop and Henri Pieck (the twin brother of Anton Pieck, whose illustrations inspired the Efteling fairytale park).

Artists were ideally suited to be spies, because of their irregular lifestyles and the fact that they had contacts with people from all walks of life. They were not quickly suspected, because of their unconventional behaviour.

Hildo Krop dochter Einstein 1932


They both became member of communist party. Henri Pieck was highly successful as a spy, as far as is known. And he was handsomely paid for his services.

Hildo Krop maskers 1933


Less is known about Hildo Krop. It is not clear if he made a significant impact as a spy,
but his studio by the Amstel river became a key location for Russian spies to meet and exchange information. Krop had his regular evening at the Schiller hotel-bar, when he would enjoy a drink or two and meet with others.

He spent almost all of his career as a sculptor in the employment of Amsterdam City Council, and his works can be seen all over the city.


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